WORDS: Alex Caslano
“It wasn’t an ambition until I went to Optimo in 2004 and ‘discovered’ dance culture; up to that point I had no idea that you could run your own night and that people had done so for years.” As is so often the case, inspiration can strike on the dancefloor; whether your grand plan or epiphany will survive the cold light of day is another matter, but for Euan Neilson, founder and resident of Killer Kitsch, the seed was well and truly planted. “The penny eventually dropped at a 2 Many DJ’s gig on a Monday night at The Art School” he reflects, “I thought ‘if we could have this every week…’”
Influenced by 2 Many DJ’s and their style of mixing underground club music with accesible, party-starting records, Euan launched his own night in 2005. Ten years on, it's now one of the most successful events Glasgow can boast. Of course, it’s not been easy; staying true to his roots while still appealing to an ever changing audience is a fine balancing act, but it’s something Euan and the Killer Kitsch residents seem to have perfected. Holding court at Bath Lane hideaway, The Buff Club, each and every Tuesday, the weekly student night has weathered many musical trends, but has never bowed to mainstream pressure. This self belief and preservation may have occasionally come at a price, but arriving at their tenth anniversary in 2015, the night has never been so popular.
After a brief spell of guest DJs (ranging from Late Nite Tuff Guy to DJ EZ), Killer Kitsch is now completely focused on its residents, regulars and dancefloor. “We don’t have DJ names or put them on the flyer for that matter” offers Euan, “the night is just better and more consistent when we’re playing; we’re there every week so we get to know the crowd.” Undoubtedly there are many reasons why Killer Kitsch has been a success (not least Euan’s dedication), but it’s perhaps the night's friendly character which people find most attractive. There’s no pretension or posturing involved, just good music, good people and a party you can rely on.
Check out a recent mix focused on the years that inspired Killer Kitsch (2000-05), as well as the full interview with Euan in which we discuss the club’s origins, its lasting appeal and the ever changing face of dance music:
SG: Given that this is your tenth anniversary it would be good to begin with a little history on how Killer Kitsch started; was running your own night always an ambition and what inspired the concept behind Killer Kitsch?
Euan: It wasn’t an ambition until I went to Optimo in 2004 and ‘discovered’ dance culture, so to speak; up to that point I had no idea that you could run your own night and that people had done so for years, The penny eventually dropped at a 2 Many DJ’s gig on a Monday night at The Art School, and I thought ‘if we could have this every week’…hmm.
SG: You’re celebrating the milestone with a series of parties, but there’s special focus on this Tuesday (24th Feb) when you’ll only be playing music from 2000-2005. What was special about that era musically?
Euan: It’s my times table, my ‘A B C’ of dance music if you will; it’s all the stuff that got me into the dance thing seriously. Before, all I knew was The Prodigy and maybe that 2 Many DJs mix comp (although that one didn’t really make sense until later on), so I have a fond emotional attachment with a lot of the stuff back then. I think it can be good to look back as well; we’re all constantly bombarded with new music and looking for the next big thing that we disregard some stuff just because it’s not the thing that’s in fashion; just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s necessarily any good.
SG: It must be really interesting to look at some of your playlists from the last ten years as electronic music continues to change; do you think you’ve stayed true to your music policy since you started or has it changed with the times?
Euan: It’s done both actually. The general idea is the same; the backbone of the night has been dance music, but it’s always peppered with other things as well. It has rolled with the times too; it had to really or we probably wouldn’t be having this chat.
SG: There have been spikes and surges in particular genres of electronic music over the last decade, including dubstep and more recently, house; have there been times when you’ve relished being able to play certain records? Or equally, when you’ve really despaired having to play certain records?
Euan: Well, the dubstep era was probably the worst time for the club. Don’t get me wrong, loads of great records came out but they weren’t really that aimed at the dancefloor, and I do remember a few REALLY bad nights around that time; but then again, we weren’t the only ones to feel the pinch.
I can’t remember playing anything that I really didn't want to though; I did get quite excited at being able to play the Ferry Corsten remix of ‘Barbers Adagio for Strings’ at one of the 90’s nights quite recently though. A more modern example would be playing Barnt – ‘Chappell’; big thanks to Joy O for that one!
SG: You’ve moved away from guest DJs over the last year or so and put more focus on the residents; does that give the night a different dynamic? Have you noticed any change from the crowd and how they interact with you?
Euan: It does put a little more focus on us, but we don’t really want to attract too much attention; we don’t have DJ names or put them on the flyer for that matter. The night is just better and more consistent when we’re playing; we’re there every week so we get to know the crowd a bit better, and we do take requests so people get a say in what’s being played.
SG: Ten years is a long time for a weekly night to be running and there must have been some memorable moments; can you pick out any highlights which you regard as particularly special?
Euan: The 3rd Birthday Party when it kinda hit me that we may be onto something; I was just totally over come with pride. Up until that point I hadn’t really taken any of it in, we’d just been playing some records every week and going along with it. And playing Rockness in 2009; we somehow ended up headlining a tent on the first night. Sadly I can’t put into words just how awesome it was.
SG: You also talk about ‘tough times and getting out of them’ in the Facebook event for your anniversary celebrations; what have you found most challenging about running a weekly?
Euan: When it took a dip - a fairly massive one - then it got tough. Eventually I formulated a plan and got it back on track, but it wasn’t easy turning up for a wee while and trying to keep everyone’s spirits up. And I do remember a few depressing car rides back from Edinburgh after doing the club at Cabaret Voltaire (in Edinburgh) - Dave actually started bringing a CD with the audio for ‘Blackadder’ to make the journey more bearable.
SG: Finally, we’re intrigued to hear about some your plans for the 52 parties you have lined up this year to celebrate; what can we look forward to? And how does the prospect of another ten years make you feel?
Euan: Well the 52 parties thing came about because people always tell me I don’t talk the night up enough, and that 10 years for a club night in Glasgow was an achievement, so I’m reluctantly going to blow my/our own trumpet this year - I think it deserves it. And yeah, I can still see this going in 10 years; I’m rubbing my hands at the thought of a Nu Rave/Electroclash revival…
Killer Kitsch runs every Tuesday night at The Buff Club - look out for more anniversary events throughout the year.